Memo to Hill Air Force Base commanders | Buzz Blog

Memo to Hill Air Force Base commanders

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Subject: Morale

Yet again suicides at the base were in the headlines last week. You say in slide shows base employees matter, that preventing suicide is your no. 1 priority. But the workers wonder if that's true.---

You have hired a new psychiatrist but does that even begin to address the root of the problem? People on the base, both civilian and military, are struggling with serious emotional and psychological issues. But they know if they go to their supervisor with any show of weakness or emotional problems, rather than receiving help, their supervisor marks down their performance appraisal.

A '1' appraisal under the NSPS system - a Rumsfeld idea that was supposed to reward people for performance but apparently ended up with friends looking after their buddies - can mean significantly less money, more stress and even fear of unemployment. If you lose your job, of course, that means no health insurance and, for some folk, the end of the only social outlet they have. Not that supervisors at Hill seem to understand that. One told workers after a standdown following a recent suicide, that being fired wasn't the end of the world, that it could be a good thing. How can that possibly shore up morale?

You say to base workers, "You matter. We care about you." What they hear, though, is "We are matter. You don't care about us." They feel like they are treated like machines, like toasters that can easily be replaced. Bottom line, however much Hill folk are suffering, they know their only option is to keep their mouth shut, because the alternative is far worse.

What Hill workers are taking away from the current situation is a clear message: if you want to kill yourself, please do it off the base. What concerns you, some civilian workers and one KSL comment board writer believe, is that an employee who decides to kill him or herself, comes to work, and before committing suicide, takes a slew of colleagues with them.

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